The Turlock Bulldogs and Sonora Wildcats met on the gridiron for the first time in 23 years on Friday, where they traded shots and lit up the scoreboard at Joe Debely Field. After an underwhelming performance against Oakdale High a week ago Turlock bounced back, unleashing a multitude of weapons in a 432-yard offensive effort that resulted in a 35-27 victory for the Bulldogs (1-1).
It’s often said that those who commit the turnovers lose games, a point Sonora’s coaching staff will be stressing to their players in the week to come. The Wildcats suffered from their inability to hold on to the ball, fumbling on their first two possessions and turning the ball and momentum over to the Bulldogs.
Senior Jordan Silva capitalized on Sonora’s first turnover with a 13-yard run up the middle with 5:35 in the first quarter for Turlock’s first touchdown of the game. Silva was back in the end zone two possessions later, catching a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Downs to put the Bulldogs up 14-0. Silva ended the day with 91 yards of total offense.
Shortly after Turlock’s second touchdown disaster struck in the form of a Trevor Wheeland knee injury, leaving the Bulldogs with less mass on the defensive line. Sonora took advantage of Wheeland’s absence, pounding the rock up the middle with fullback Brandon Camara and quarterback Andrew Nesse. Luckily for Turlock, Sonora maintained their fumbling ways as Nesse lost the ball on the Bulldog 1 yard line, keeping the Wildcats off the board.
“When Wheeland went down it was a big loss,” Turlock’s head coach James Peterson said. “It was a big adjustment we had to make.”
Although Sonora missed an opportunity to score they immediately made up for it, blocking Brandon Esquivel’s punt and recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown. Not to be outdone, Downs stepped on to the field with a response of his own, throwing for 50 yards and scrambling for 24 more in a 48 second 6 play touchdown drive that ended with DaShawn Holcombe finding pay dirt.
The score was 21-6, Turlock, at the half.
“The one thing we wanted to do this offseason was change the way we approached the game; we wanted to spread the ball out,” Peterson said. “The guys are gaining more confidence and maturity.”
Both teams entered the second half with determination, matching each other touchdown for touchdown. Sonora opened with a t 10-play scoring drive but was pushed back with another Holcombe touchdown after a 40-yard run through traffic. Sonora scored once again on its subsequent possession as the Bulldog defense began to wear thin.
With 1:03 left in the third quarter and an eight point lead Turlock placed the offense in senior quarterback Anthony Peters’ hands, giving Downs a breather and Peters a chance to shine. Peters didn’t disappoint, connecting with Tyler Hendren on a 33-yard pass and catch in the corner of the endzone to put his team up 35-21. Peters finished with 50 passing yards while Downs threw for 109 yards. Holcombe’s game total was 110 yards.
Turlock will play in a rare Thursday night game next week against Enochs High at home where the Bulldogs will try to continue offensive maturity.